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Taking America Back for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States

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Why do so many conservative Christians continue to support Donald Trump despite his many overt moral failings? Why do many Americans advocate so vehemently for xenophobic policies, such as a border wall with Mexico? Why do many Americans seem so unwilling to acknowledge the injustices that ethnic and racial minorities experience in the United States? Why do a sizeable prop Why do so many conservative Christians continue to support Donald Trump despite his many overt moral failings? Why do many Americans advocate so vehemently for xenophobic policies, such as a border wall with Mexico? Why do many Americans seem so unwilling to acknowledge the injustices that ethnic and racial minorities experience in the United States? Why do a sizeable proportion of Americans continue to oppose women's equality in the workplace and in the home? To answer these questions, Taking America Back for God points to the phenomenon of "Christian nationalism," the belief that the United States is-and should be-a Christian nation. Christian ideals and symbols have long played an important role in American public life, but Christian nationalism is about far more than whether the phrase "under God" belongs in the pledge of allegiance. At its heart, Christian nationalism demands that we must preserve a particular kind of social order, an order in which everyone--Christians and non-Christians, native-born and immigrants, whites and minorities, men and women recognizes their "proper" place in society. The first comprehensive empirical analysis of Christian nationalism in the United States, Taking America Back for God illustrates the influence of Christian nationalism on today's most contentious social and political issues. Drawing on multiple sources of national survey data as well as in-depth interviews, Andrew Whitehead and Samuel Perry document how Christian nationalism shapes what Americans think about who they are as a people, what their future should look like, and how they should get there. Americans' stance toward Christian nationalism provides powerful insight into what they think about immigration, Islam, gun control, police shootings, atheists, gender roles, and many other political issues-very much including who they want in the White House. Taking America Back for God is a guide to one of the most important-and least understood-forces shaping American politics.


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Why do so many conservative Christians continue to support Donald Trump despite his many overt moral failings? Why do many Americans advocate so vehemently for xenophobic policies, such as a border wall with Mexico? Why do many Americans seem so unwilling to acknowledge the injustices that ethnic and racial minorities experience in the United States? Why do a sizeable prop Why do so many conservative Christians continue to support Donald Trump despite his many overt moral failings? Why do many Americans advocate so vehemently for xenophobic policies, such as a border wall with Mexico? Why do many Americans seem so unwilling to acknowledge the injustices that ethnic and racial minorities experience in the United States? Why do a sizeable proportion of Americans continue to oppose women's equality in the workplace and in the home? To answer these questions, Taking America Back for God points to the phenomenon of "Christian nationalism," the belief that the United States is-and should be-a Christian nation. Christian ideals and symbols have long played an important role in American public life, but Christian nationalism is about far more than whether the phrase "under God" belongs in the pledge of allegiance. At its heart, Christian nationalism demands that we must preserve a particular kind of social order, an order in which everyone--Christians and non-Christians, native-born and immigrants, whites and minorities, men and women recognizes their "proper" place in society. The first comprehensive empirical analysis of Christian nationalism in the United States, Taking America Back for God illustrates the influence of Christian nationalism on today's most contentious social and political issues. Drawing on multiple sources of national survey data as well as in-depth interviews, Andrew Whitehead and Samuel Perry document how Christian nationalism shapes what Americans think about who they are as a people, what their future should look like, and how they should get there. Americans' stance toward Christian nationalism provides powerful insight into what they think about immigration, Islam, gun control, police shootings, atheists, gender roles, and many other political issues-very much including who they want in the White House. Taking America Back for God is a guide to one of the most important-and least understood-forces shaping American politics.

30 review for Taking America Back for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States

  1. 5 out of 5

    David

    This book is an absolute must-read to understand the current religious and political climate in America right now. The authors have done extensive research to better understand what Christian Nationalism is and who Christian Nationalists are. They define Christian nationalism as “Christian nationalism is a cultural framework—a collection of myths, traditions, symbols, narratives, and value systems—that idealizes and advocates a fusion of Christianity with American civic life” (10). Though holdi This book is an absolute must-read to understand the current religious and political climate in America right now. The authors have done extensive research to better understand what Christian Nationalism is and who Christian Nationalists are. They define Christian nationalism as “Christian nationalism is a cultural framework—a collection of myths, traditions, symbols, narratives, and value systems—that idealizes and advocates a fusion of Christianity with American civic life” (10). Though holding the term “Christian”, Christian nationalism is not the same as religion: “the “Christianity” of Christian nationalism represents something more than religion. As we will show, it includes assumptions of nativism, white supremacy, patriarchy, and heteronormativity, along with divine sanction for authoritarian control and militarism. It is as ethnic and political as it is religious” (10) Along those lines, the authors separate Christian nationalism from the traditional American “civic religion.” American civic religion has looked to parts of scripture such as the prophets to call citizens to civic engagement and the institution of just politics and so forth. Contrast this with Christian nationalism which Christian nationalism is rarely concerned with instituting explicitly “Christ-like” policies, or even policies reflecting New Testament ethics at all. Rather, Christian nationalists view God’s expectations of America as akin to his commands to Old Testament Israel. Like Israel, then, America should fear God’s wrath for unfaithfulness while assuming God’s blessing—or even mandate—for subduing the continent by force if necessary” (11). Christian nationalism is more political than religious. Thus, a person’s identity as a Christian nationalist has more to do with if they are politically conservative than if they are a white evangelical. That point is one of the biggest takeaways from the book: Christian nationalist does not equal white evangelical. Plenty of white evangelicals are Christian nationalists, but not all Christian nationalists are white evangelicals. One point they emphasize throughout is that once Christian nationalism is taken into account, those who actively practice religion (attend church, pray, read Bible) are nearly the opposite of Christian nationalists. Christian nationalists, for example, are anti-immigration, while religious practitioners are more likely to be pro-immigration. “Stated simply: being an evangelical, or even a white evangelical as pollsters often define that category, tells us almost nothing about a person’s social attitudes or behavior once Christian nationalism has been considered. The two categories often overlap, to be sure. Roughly half of evangelicals (by some definitions) embrace Christian nationalism to some degree. And yet what is really influencing Americans’ behavior? Being affiliated with evangelicalism? Holding to traditional views about the Bible? Or advocating Christian nationalism? As it turns out, being an evangelical does not lead one to enthusiastically support border walls with Mexico; favoring Christian nationalism does. Being an evangelical does not seem to sour Americans’ attitudes toward stronger gun control legislation; endorsing Christian nationalism does. Being an evangelical was not an important predictor of which Americans voted for Donald Trump in 2016; supporting Christian nationalism was. Readers should keep this in mind throughout” (29). Throughout the book they examine all these points in more depth. They describe four groups: Ambassadors are wholly supportive of Christian nationalism, Accomodators lean that direction, Rejecters wholly reject Christian nationalism and Resisters lean towards rejection. Through discussing topics such as orders and boundaries, they look at how each of these groups differs in how it views the world. The conclusion brings it all together and again emphasizes why this topic is important: “Acknowledging the importance of Christian nationalism also introduces the precision that our public discourse on religion and politics so desperately needs. For the past few years journalists and political commentators have obsessed over why “white evangelicals,” voted for President Trump. In reality, however, it is not just being evangelical or even being a white evangelical that truly matters. Rather, it is the degree to which Americans—perceiving current political conflicts through the lens of Christian nationalism—wish to institutionalize conservative “Christian” cultural preferences in America’s policies and self-identity. Recognizing the power of Christian nationalism helps us acknowledge not only the diversity within particular religious traditions but also why those of different religious traditions who are Ambassadors tend to vote and act in very similar ways. Evangelicals and mainline Protestants who are Ambassadors are much more alike politically than are Ambassadors and Resisters who are both mainline Protestants. Moreover, Christian nationalism is not bound to any particular religious group. . . Christian nationalism is significant because calls to “take America back for God” are not primarily about mobilizing the faithful toward religious ends ” (152-153) And “Christian nationalism is, therefore, ultimately about privilege. It co-opts Christian language and iconography in order to cloak particular political or social ends in moral and religious symbolism. This serves to legitimate the demands, wants, and desires of those embracing Christian nationalism in the transcendent. If God says the United States should take a particular stance, or pass a specific law, who are we to argue? Christian nationalism is used to defend against shifts in the culture toward equality for groups that have historically lacked access to the levers of power—women, sexual, racial, ethnic, and religious minorities” (152-153) Overall, a very important book in understanding Christian nationalism.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Barry

    3 stars, rounding up from 2.5. This was interesting, but I had mixed feelings about this book. The authors, who are sociologists, are clearly perplexed over why people who identify as Christians would support Trump, who is so, well, un-Christlike. According to the authors, what they call Christian Nationalism isn’t really a religious outlook, but rather a particular political and cultural view. This view holds that our country was founded on Christian principles, and that our culture would be bet 3 stars, rounding up from 2.5. This was interesting, but I had mixed feelings about this book. The authors, who are sociologists, are clearly perplexed over why people who identify as Christians would support Trump, who is so, well, un-Christlike. According to the authors, what they call Christian Nationalism isn’t really a religious outlook, but rather a particular political and cultural view. This view holds that our country was founded on Christian principles, and that our culture would be better served by continuing to follow those principles. The authors came up with a set of questions that allows them to score their subjects based on their level of agreement with this outlook, and then divide them into 4 categories. They use the rather inflammatory term Christian Nationalists for one extreme of the spectrum, while the other extreme is simply labeled Rejectors. This opposite extreme maintains that religion should be a personal matter only, and should not be a factor in governance or have a significant role in civic life. Despite the perfunctory disclaimer that they really don’t mean “nationalism” in the same sense as in “White Nationalism,” or as in the “National Socialist German Workers (Nazi) Party,” they are still content to use this inflammatory terminology throughout the rest of the book. It would seem to be more evenhanded to label each end of the spectrum. I would suggest Cultural Christian Traditionalists and Secular/Separationists. Some of their analysis of each of the 4 categories is pretty interesting, but they consistently portray the views of the Secular/Separationists as normal and expected, while the very existence of the Cultural Christian Traditionalist viewpoint is an aberration that needs to be explained. This, despite the fact that in 2017, 52% of Americans held to either the strong or weak version of this view. Their data only goes back to 2007 (when 59% held this view), but I would hazard to guess that 50 and 100 years ago, the view that is now labeled as “Christian Nationalism” would have been the dominant, and even typical view of the American populace. It therefore seems to me that it’s the rise of Secular/Separationist view that needs to be explained. Perhaps that should be the subject of their next book? Addendum 3/10/21: I’m just going to staple Tim Keller’s review of this book here so I can find it again. It’s very good: https://quarterly.gospelinlife.com/bo... Addendum 3/13/21: I’m also going to tack on this Kevin DeYoung article: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/bl...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Adam Shields

    Summary: Christian nationalism is a better predictor for voting for Trump than identifying as an Evangelical. Yesterday I pulled up Miroslav Volf's For the Life of the World podcast because it was interviewing Jemar Tisby. I am very familiar with Jemar (and his book Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church's Complicity in Racism). But I thought this was still a good interview and especially if you are not familiar with his book and work. Because I was driving, I let it keep playin Summary: Christian nationalism is a better predictor for voting for Trump than identifying as an Evangelical. Yesterday I pulled up Miroslav Volf's For the Life of the World podcast because it was interviewing Jemar Tisby. I am very familiar with Jemar (and his book Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church's Complicity in Racism). But I thought this was still a good interview and especially if you are not familiar with his book and work. Because I was driving, I let it keep playing to last week's podcast because I had not heard it. Volf was interviewing Andrew Whitehead and Samuel Perry, sociologists of religion, talking about their recent book "Taking America Back for God". The book is about Christian Nationalism. And the podcast gives a very good overview but doesn't delve deeply into the argument. I immediately bought the audiobook and just finished listening to the book. Short version: these two have developed a measure of Christian Nationalism and have used it in large scale surveys in 2007 and 2017 as well as compared it to other measures of Christian Nationalism. They believe that Christian Nationalism is the best predictor of voting for Trump in 2016 and will also be a good predictor for 2020. They also believe that White Evangelicals is not a good predictor of voting for Trump because many while many Christian Nationalists are evangelicals, not all evangelicals are Christian nationalists. Christian nationalists and those that lean in that direction make up a majority of Evangelicals, and there are many factors in why that is true, but Christian Nationalists are present in many parts of the Christian church and even some that do not identify as Christian, but who view Christian nationalism as a type of American identify. Where I find the argument interesting is in the other associations with Christian nationalism, that overlap with (but are not necessarily the same as voting for Trump). According to the authors, there are three aspects of Christian nationalism, power, boundaries, and order. (These are tendencies, so not every person that is a Christian Nationalist is deterministically someone that agrees to all of the following and those that follow any or all of the following are not necessarily Christian Nationalists, but they do hold explanatory power). Christian Nationalists tend to see political power as important and are primarily interested in the results of nationalism's expression, not as much in the means to get there. So using Trump as an example, they don't care that much about the 'pussy-grabbing' and racist language, although they may find it distasteful, as long as the judges are appointed and the power is wielded. Secondly, (White) Christian Nationalists draw boundaries. They are not in favor of immigrants, especially refugees, who they see as likely to be Muslim or in other ways counter to their view of what it means to be an American. They distrust Muslims in particular because they are afraid of terrorism and violence, but also other immigrants from places like Central or South America (who tend to be Protestant Christian at fairly high rates) because they are still "other". And within the US, Christian Nationalists tend to have a White normative view of what it means to be American, so Black and other racial minorities in the US are still 'other' and not 'real Americans'. (They don't spend as much time as I wish they would like on this, but they differentiate Black Christian nationalists, who lean toward Christian Nationalism at very high rates, but who use the ideas and language of Christian nationalism as a means of inclusion, not exclusion. So Black Christian nationalists use the ideas of Christian nationalism as a means of saying that Black Americans are, in fact, fully American and not as a way to exclude others from the designation.) The third feature is an understanding of Order. This includes not only prioritizing policing and authority (Blue Lives Matter types of sentiment) but also family order and community uniformity. They tend to be patriarchal in family order and point to a normative nuclear family as essential to being American in their understanding. They would see breakdowns of the family not as a result of poverty but as a cause of poverty. The order part also applies to resistance toward gay marriage, neighborhood or school integration, and interracial families, not only interracial marriage but also interracial adoption as contrary to the social order. Like many sociology books, it is more about description than a solution or prescription. And they call for more research. But there is some discussion about how people that are attracted to nationalistic ideas can be drawn toward more empathy and understanding. But this feels like a significant factor when thinking about the resistance of White Christians in particular to understanding issues of racism. It feels like those that are lower on the Christian nationalism scale are likely those that are more likely to already be in discussions about race and are already crossing boundaries. At the same time, this points out some of the broader tendencies within the church that seem to be failing in regard to race. Groups like the National Day of Prayer, family advocacy groups like Focus on the Family, and those that highly value institutions will be more likely to have staff and supporters that are high on the Christian nationalism scale. I was pretty involved in Mission America as a young adult. Through that, I knew several that were on planning committees for National Day of Prayer and many local prayer breakfast groups. As I became disillusioned from these groups for a number of reasons (but mostly from their dominionist theology and utilitarian thinking), I was still Facebook friends or in-person acquaintances with these people. I started to see how they responded to Obama as an "other" and dangerous (I lived in Hyde Part where Obama was from, I met him first in 1997, long before he became famous and I knew many people from Trinity Church where Obama went and knew that it was not a dangerously radical church.) Most of those relationships faded over time naturally as I moved from Chicago and was no longer involved with Mission America or pastors prayer groups as part of my job. But a few still exist, and this book really felt like it explains many people to me. One feature discussed in the podcast is that Nationalists groups in Europe tend to be only culturally Christian. Still, many Christian Nationalists in the US are devote, regularly attend church, see their faith as important, but also have an orthopraxy problem with their faith. Some are solely culturally Christian, but at least among those that identify as Evangelical or Catholic or Mainline Protestant, many are still very active in participating with their faith. Taking America Back For God is clear that most would not self identify as Christian Nationalists, although some would. The groups are based on the answers to six questions and then coded into groups based on the cumulative scores of these questions: 1) The federal government should declare the United States a Christian nation. 2) The federal government should advocate Christian values 3) The Federal Government should enforce strict separation of church and state (reverse coded) 4) The federal government should allow the display of religious symbols in public spaces 5) The success of the United States is part of God's plan 6) The federal government should allow prayer in public schools

  4. 5 out of 5

    Peacegal

    Another book on the phenomenon of Christian nationalism. This one reads a lot like an extra-long abstract of a research paper, and wasn't as absorbing to me at least as titles such as THE POWER WORSHIPPERS. However, TAKING AMERICA does contain a lot of interviews with people across the religious spectrum, so it's useful for understanding why someone might be attracted to the religious nationalism side. It could help readers who don't share this view better interact with family members, coworkers Another book on the phenomenon of Christian nationalism. This one reads a lot like an extra-long abstract of a research paper, and wasn't as absorbing to me at least as titles such as THE POWER WORSHIPPERS. However, TAKING AMERICA does contain a lot of interviews with people across the religious spectrum, so it's useful for understanding why someone might be attracted to the religious nationalism side. It could help readers who don't share this view better interact with family members, coworkers, etc., who do. A lot of the appeal of religious nationalism for people boils down to fear. 

  5. 4 out of 5

    Reuben

    I’ve been sitting on this for weeks now, wrestling with just how to present a book that could make people mad for numerous reasons. Whether you feel the book too harsh or not harsh enough, this is good social science work because at the end, no one’s really happy. Published in early 2020, Taking America Back for God challenged many of my assumptions and proved enlightening to questions I’ve asked myself often: Why did (and do) so many Christians support a morally dubious Donald Trump? Or promote I’ve been sitting on this for weeks now, wrestling with just how to present a book that could make people mad for numerous reasons. Whether you feel the book too harsh or not harsh enough, this is good social science work because at the end, no one’s really happy. Published in early 2020, Taking America Back for God challenged many of my assumptions and proved enlightening to questions I’ve asked myself often: Why did (and do) so many Christians support a morally dubious Donald Trump? Or promote policies that are decidedly antithetical to a biblical ethic? One of an increasing number of books examining the often curious, sometimes frustrating link between the Evangelical church and conservative politics, it is perhaps more nuanced than another popular work from 2020, Jesus and John Wayne. Where J&JW is an examination of the history of evangelicalism’s increasing embrace of “Masculine Christianity,” TABFG is a sociological study of who it was precisely that supported Donald Trump in 2016, and by extension, the politics of the far right. Sociologists Whitehead and Perry have taken great pains to lay out their methodology and data sources openly and plainly with numerous interviews, tables, and appendices to supplement their findings (sure to appease Monday morning sociology quarterbacks). After laying out their methodology and background, the authors quickly identify what they feel is the strongest predictor of support for Donald Trump: a belief in Christian Nationalism. More so than any other demographic: more than race, economic position, religion in general, Christian Nationalism was the most consistent driving force of people likely to support Trump. Asking a series of questions that end with a direct, “Is America a Christian nation?” the authors created a scale which placed respondents into four categories: Rejectors, Resistors, Accommodators, and Ambassadors of Christian Nationalism. This scale regularly predicted degrees of support or opposition to Chrisitian Nationalism. While the survey answers varied far and wide, the authors found Christian Nationalism to be less an acute religious philosophy, but more so a cultural framework of control and tradition. In essence, Christian Nationalism seeks to impose a system of order and control on society at large, or put simply, to maintain “the way things *should* be” regardless of the will of the majority. At its heart, Christian Nationalism presents a framework that supports an authoritative ideal of “Christian values” that finds itself increasingly out of step with the culture at large. Over the survey span of a decade, “Ambassadors” as a group in particular show dwindling numbers, either because of an aging population or the gradual societal shift away from policies they support. However, instead of placing the blame of Christian Nationalism (or Masculine Christianity) at the feet of Evangelicals, an encouraging (for me anyway) result of the study showed Evangelicals and Christian Nationalists are NOT synonymous. Rather, the study found that the more religiosity a respondent exhibited, the less likely the respondent supported Christian Nationalism. On the contrary, they are *more* likely to support biblical social justice and actively care for the poor and the less socially desirable/social capital deficient. Overall, I found this to be an excellent examination of people’s view of the question, “is American a Christian nation?” and how that manifests itself within the current political spectrum. I appreciated the data, the straight forward and transparent nature of the work. And if you’ve made it this far, you might possibly care about my opinion. In short: Christian Nationalism represents a clear and present danger to the country at large and the American Church in particular. It presents a seduction of control and domination that directly inspired the events of January 6th, perpetuates the Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump, and continues to taint the Gospel of Christ with the idea that America is ‘won’ for God through political strength, at any cost.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Brennan Humphreys

    Whitehead and Perry's research corroborates much of what many of us--especially those within the Christian sphere but somewhat removed from the heart of conservative evangelicalism--have observed and concluded about Trump's America. The book's major chapter headings are the darlings of nationalism: Power, Boundaries, and Order. The precision of the study is its greatest strength. The authors are examining Christian nationalism, not white evangelicalism. While the two are now just about inextric Whitehead and Perry's research corroborates much of what many of us--especially those within the Christian sphere but somewhat removed from the heart of conservative evangelicalism--have observed and concluded about Trump's America. The book's major chapter headings are the darlings of nationalism: Power, Boundaries, and Order. The precision of the study is its greatest strength. The authors are examining Christian nationalism, not white evangelicalism. While the two are now just about inextricably bound up with each other, they are not at all equivalent. Actually, white evangelicals comprise just under 50% of those in the study that favor Christian nationalism, forming the largest minority rather than majority. And, of course, many evangelicals surveyed unequivocally rejected or resisted any idea of America as a Christian nation. Rather than a religious commitment, Christian nationalism emphasizes religious identity (note: not behavior or even belief), geographic nativity, and political ideology. Being Christian (preferably Protestant), American-born, and politically conservative are the linchpins. And while whiteness (and racist attitudes toward non-whites) is certainly a common element, it is not among these core elements. Christian nationalism isn't simply racism hidden in patriotic language. When the core elements of Christian nationalism emerge in minority groups (and they are much more prevalent than most of us realize), they are actually strongly correlated with an ardent pursuit of racial justice. So while whiteness + Christian nationalism almost always produces racism, racism and Christian nationalism are hardly collapsible. Whitehead and Perry clearly view Christian nationalism as a stain both on America and Christianity. Here is their quoting of another sociologist: Christian nationalism is "not a substantive Christianity; it is a 'secularized Christianity-as-culture' . . . a civilizational and identitarian 'Christianism.'" Christianism is impotent precisely because it misconstrues both American history/values and Christian history/values. The numbers are wrong before they're even added together. I read this book alongside Baldwin's "The Fire Next Time," and his diagnosis of whites broadly in the 60s rings true—and quite loudly at that—for Christian nationalists: "They are, in effect, still trapped in a history which they do not understand; and until they understand it, they cannot be released from it." Looking back on this review, I realize I've left an awful lot untouched, so I should be clear that the book carries a lot more nuance and detail than my brief summary. I do think this book will help anyone be a bit more articulate about one of the many social beasts that faces contemporary American society. Three stars because charts & tables don't get my blood pumping.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Shua

    Bad taste in my mouth...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tyler Williams

    Christian Nationalism. What is it and why did I not know anything about it until I read this book? This book (and understanding Christian Nationalism) made the world I see around me make so much more sense. It answered the question I had, “Why can some Christian’s look across the aisle politically (either direction) and be so confused that there could be a Christian on the other side of the aisle?” This book was SO interesting and helped give me categories I didn’t know I needed. I came across t Christian Nationalism. What is it and why did I not know anything about it until I read this book? This book (and understanding Christian Nationalism) made the world I see around me make so much more sense. It answered the question I had, “Why can some Christian’s look across the aisle politically (either direction) and be so confused that there could be a Christian on the other side of the aisle?” This book was SO interesting and helped give me categories I didn’t know I needed. I came across this book because it was recommended by Jamar Tisby on Latasha Morrison’s “Be the Bridge” podcast. Let me say that there are many who will really have a hard time with this book. I personally had a difficult time getting through one of the chapters because I felt defensive and frustrated with the data. Plus, this book definitely points out some ethical issues of Trump’s over the years, so if you’re someone who would be offended by this or would become so defensive that you wouldn’t be able listen to the authors arguments, then perhaps it’s not the book for you. However, if you are willing to listen to the findings of this research, consider how Christian nationalism might play a part in how those who claim Christian values in America have leaned politically, and challenge your own values on the questions proposed in this book about adhering to Christian Nationalism, I definitely recommend this book. Finally if you read it (or listen... I did!) and you’re frustrated with me for suggesting it or the ideas explained in it, please don’t post comments or criticisms here or on social media. Instead, please message me and ask to grab a coffee and talk about it. I would love the chance to hear your thoughts.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Randy Ringeisen

    The thesis of this book is that religious supporters of President Trump and the far right come not primarily from white evangelicals but from a group the authors identify as Christian Nationalists. While there is considerable overlap between the two groups, when accounting for Christian Nationalists, white evangelicals are no more likely than any other group to support the Trump agenda. The authors divided those they questioned based on how strongly they affirmed the statement “America is a Chri The thesis of this book is that religious supporters of President Trump and the far right come not primarily from white evangelicals but from a group the authors identify as Christian Nationalists. While there is considerable overlap between the two groups, when accounting for Christian Nationalists, white evangelicals are no more likely than any other group to support the Trump agenda. The authors divided those they questioned based on how strongly they affirmed the statement “America is a Christian Nation”. Based on answers to several questions, survey participants were classified as Ambassadors, Accommodators, Resistors and Rejectors. How the participants were classified correlated closely with their views on several issues such as immigration, race relations and the role of women. This book serves an important purpose in trying to correct the common misconception that evangelical beliefs correlate with far right politics. It is not evangelicals in general but rather those who equate their faith with patriotism. Many evangelicals consider that belief a form of idolatry.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ernst

    Data driven survey suggests that the best predictor of whether someone voted for Trump in 2016 is still whether they self-identify as Republican, Democrat, Conservative, or Liberal. For those who say, "independent" the authors have a six question survey, with questions like, "Should Congress declare America to be a Christian nation?" that is the next best predictor of that vote -- better than economics, church attendance, and the like. The charts can take a little time to follow, but the book i Data driven survey suggests that the best predictor of whether someone voted for Trump in 2016 is still whether they self-identify as Republican, Democrat, Conservative, or Liberal. For those who say, "independent" the authors have a six question survey, with questions like, "Should Congress declare America to be a Christian nation?" that is the next best predictor of that vote -- better than economics, church attendance, and the like. The charts can take a little time to follow, but the book is short, and full of results that I think will surprise everyone. Several cases where folks who want school prayer the most skew differently that people who frequently attend a Christian church or read the Christian Bible -- the border wall and Trump's travel ban as examples. Lots of interesting brief excerpts from interviews from voters on different places on the political and nationalist spectrum.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Megan Herriott

    This was a super interesting and obviously relevant read. It’s all about explaining the movement of “Christian Nationalism,” which they define as “political idolatry dressed up as religious orthodoxy.” The book looks into the spectrum of people who “reject, resist, accommodate and are ambassadors” for Christian Nationalism, the values each of these groups hold and what the effects of this movement are, played out in the US. I listened to the audiobook, but I think a hard copy would have been hel This was a super interesting and obviously relevant read. It’s all about explaining the movement of “Christian Nationalism,” which they define as “political idolatry dressed up as religious orthodoxy.” The book looks into the spectrum of people who “reject, resist, accommodate and are ambassadors” for Christian Nationalism, the values each of these groups hold and what the effects of this movement are, played out in the US. I listened to the audiobook, but I think a hard copy would have been helpful because it’s based on a research study and references lots of tables and charts.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Bridget

    This book was much more academic than I thought it would be. I was trying to read it quickly because it’s due at the library, but wanted to slow down to take it all in. It was a fascinating read that really got me to think about what I believe about my faith and American civic life and how those intersect for friends and family as well.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    I don’t know. More than 2 but less than 3 stars.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Stieb

    An interesting, punchy book that charts the worldview of Christian Nationalism (CN) in the US. CN is the belief that the United States is an essentially Christian nation, that it was chosen by God, uniquely among other nations, and that the founders meant it to be a Christian nation. They believe that the US will be prosperous and powerful insofar as it keeps faith with that essential Christianity. Other religious groups may live in the US, but they should keep their views private and not challe An interesting, punchy book that charts the worldview of Christian Nationalism (CN) in the US. CN is the belief that the United States is an essentially Christian nation, that it was chosen by God, uniquely among other nations, and that the founders meant it to be a Christian nation. They believe that the US will be prosperous and powerful insofar as it keeps faith with that essential Christianity. Other religious groups may live in the US, but they should keep their views private and not challenge the dominant Christianity. It is a highly conservative worldview that seeks to preserve the political power of white Christians while reinforcing traditional boundaries of race, gender, and sexuality. One interesting and innovative distinction they draw between CN and Christianity is that CN is much more a political viewpoint than a religion; it prioritizes victory and power in the political realm rather than justice, piety, charity, and religious behavior in general. I thought the authors could have done a better job showing how CN culture often didn't care much about actual religious practice and piety, but this distinction is useful for understanding their relentless political emphasis. In fact, people who practice religions of all kinds are actually more likely than the general population to dissent from the principle of CN. The authors' methods are very political science-y, which was both interesting and frustrating to me as a historian. CN is definitely an ideal type with degrees of belief, and most of the book is drawn from survey data and more qualitative interviews that try to figure out the predictive power of CN as opposed to other markers like race, gender, age, religion, political affiliation. They do show that this is a discrete and unique worldview shared by about 20% of the overall population, although that % is declining as the country becomes more diverse. However, at times the distinction btw white evangelicalism and CN appeared hair-splitting. If 80% of white evangelicals voted for Trump in 2016 and they are the core of most CN movements, then there appears to be significant overlap btw these concepts even if they are not synonymous, as there are many white evangelicals who may have voted for Trump but don't score full CN on the authors' scale. I take their point, but they maybe insisted a little too strongly on this one. The authors are quite concerned with CN, and for good reasons. They tend to be moral Manicheanists who are simultaneously pretty Machiavellian about the means of creating and sustaining a Christian America. Their support of Trump, who touted CN principles/rhetoric and threw them some red meat as president, says a lot about them and their willingness to shatter moral consistency in order to achieve power. They are "my way or the highway" people who don't accept that other faiths (or non-faiths) can lead to happiness, ethical behavior, and good citizenship. They consistently dismiss the suffering/oppression of the less fortunate and hold pretty reprehensible views on issues like gay or interracial marriage. They seem willing to rig the political game today in many ways in order to hold on to power. There's an old saying, wrongly attributed to Sinclair Lewis, that when fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross. This book suggests the reality of that threat and lays out this worldview clearly and concisely. My last critique of the book is that it is lacking in historical context. The authors refer to some authors who have explored the historical roots of this belief system, and they tend to see its ebbing and flowing in US history as a response to social disruption, especially challenges to the established hierarchy. Still, there was little effort to develop the roots of this viewpoint, its historical variations, or to explore a few major thinkers in this tradition. Were any of the founders CN? What about someone like William Jennings Bryan or Billy Graham? Is this an essentially modern concept, or a sort of challenge to secular liberal modernity? I get that they wanted to keep this book short, but I think a short summary of the historical literature on this historical background would have really enriched the book. One thing I like about this book is that it's a call for liberals and academics to take religion more seriously; not necessarily to believe religious claims, but to appreciate its centrality to American life, values, politics, and identities. Race, class, and gender have so dominated the humanities and social science in the last 40 years or so (not necessarily a bad thing) that religion has been pushed to the side or simply treated as epiphenomenal (e.g., just a product or justifying gloss on class or racial privilege/hierarchy). This book shows the pitfalls of ignoring religion and the necessity of exploring its interaction with these other categories. This is more of an academic book, but it should be read broadly within that world, especially given its bite-size.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    A very solid bit of scholarship, a bit intimidating since the methodology section in the beginning is somewhat dense but that rigor does a lot to shore up the results and analysis discussed within the following chapters.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy

    Generally helpful. In their studies, they used a spectrum re: Christian nationalism - Ambassadors, accommodators, resistors, rejectors. Lots of helpful data on how Christian nationalism correlates with views/perspectives re: immigration, race, sexuality, etc. A helpful addition to the literature.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ruchira Wijayaratne

    Interesting and disheartening. On another note, this is one of those books that is sometimes difficult to follow on audio because they talk about data and figures. There’s an appendix with their data and figures, which listeners miss out on. Also, the narrator would sometimes read something that would send me off on a tangential mind-rant, and I’d end up having to rewind 2 minutes.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Lee

    This was an interesting book to finish on Election Day 2020. I appreciated the objective survey of the pervasive ideology of Christian nationalism in our country, and how it can compromise our Christian witness to the world. Our way forward from this divisive moment will include being honest about how powerfully this ideology has shaped us, how we engage politically, and how we treat our neighbors.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Craig Munier

    On too rare of occasions to suit me, a book crosses my path bearing an answer to one of my life’s “big questions”. This was one such book for me. May it be so for you...

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dana Ann

    for anyone, whether you support your leader or have woken up every day since november 2016 saying wtmf, this is a must read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Persis

    Given current events, this is a must read. Will add more to this review later.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bob Price

    Why did so many white Evangelicals abandon their Christian principles in continuing to support Donald Trump? That is a question that is tackled in Taking America Back for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States. This book is actually based on the Baylor Religious Survey in 2017 which sought to answer this question. The answer comes in the name of Christian Nationalism. Christian Nationalism is the belief that America is the chosen nation from God and God has a special destiny for it. Thi Why did so many white Evangelicals abandon their Christian principles in continuing to support Donald Trump? That is a question that is tackled in Taking America Back for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States. This book is actually based on the Baylor Religious Survey in 2017 which sought to answer this question. The answer comes in the name of Christian Nationalism. Christian Nationalism is the belief that America is the chosen nation from God and God has a special destiny for it. This idea is not new, but the way that it has been espoused in recent years definitely is. If we want to understand the modern political scene, then we have to understand Christian Nationalism. The authors determine that there are actually four groups in relation to Christian Nationalism: Ambassadors, Accommodators, Resisters and Rejecters. Ambassadors are those who truly believe in Christian Nationalism, while Accommodators swing that way in a positive manner. Resisters swing away from it but still have some Christian Nationalistic ideas while Rejectors are antithetical to Christian Nationalism. It is important to note that it is not just White Evangelicals who supported Trump. It was white evangelicals in the Ambassador and Accommodator camps that supported trump. A person’s view on Christian Nationalism can help predict their views on a wide variety of subjects. Ambassadors are anti-immigrant, pro-gun and pro-prayer in school. They oppose any sort of progressive ideas (i.e. they are against Critical Race Theory and Vaccines). Rejectors represent the opposite on many of the same ideas. What was surprising was the conclusion that people who engaged with their faith…who regularly attended worship services and bible studies moved away from the Ambassador camp in the resistor or the rejector camp. The author speculates that the more one engages with Christianity, the more they see the inconsistencies with Christian Nationalism. If we want people people to not support Trump, then we should encourage them to go to church, pray more and study their Bible. On the flip side, this demonstrates the continued weakness of the Christian Church with regards to the actual Christian faith. Whitehead’s writing is clear, but very technical at parts. A positive for the book is they include a large section including their research methods and raw data. However, many of the chapters can read like a textbook at times. I highly recommend this book for any Christian or anyone who wants to understand Evangelical support for Trump. Grade: A

  23. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    This was a slow read for me. It is quite dry and at times it made my brain do somersaults. Although I finally did come around to understand what the authors were getting at, I found that at times they were splitting VERY fine hairs to prove their points (which I guess is what statistical analysis is about). Essentially they were attempting to prove that being a Christian nationalist was more about your politics than your religion. Also, white evangelical and Christian nationalist are not equitab This was a slow read for me. It is quite dry and at times it made my brain do somersaults. Although I finally did come around to understand what the authors were getting at, I found that at times they were splitting VERY fine hairs to prove their points (which I guess is what statistical analysis is about). Essentially they were attempting to prove that being a Christian nationalist was more about your politics than your religion. Also, white evangelical and Christian nationalist are not equitable terms in any sense. For the most part, I think they worked their way around to finding support for both of these assertions, but it was a stretch at times. Two things I would have liked more clarity on. First, one of the two primary surveys they used for their analysis was the BRS 2017 for which the sample size was 1,600. I don't know a lot about national surveys, but this seems like a very small sample in a country of 328 million people. As a non-expert, I would have appreciated a little explanation about why that's an appropriate size to base this kind of analysis on. Also, the BRS asks for respondents to state their religious tradition. The options are: Evangelical Protestant, Mainline Protestant, Black Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Other, No affiliation. One of the points the authors make is that Christian nationalists aren't necessary all Christians because there is a surprisingly large percentage of people identifying with "other" religions who score high on Christian nationalists identifiers. I feel that this could be a little misleading, because that "other" group could contain everything from Latter-Day Saints (who often politically side more with conservative Protestants), seriously non-denominational Christians who would object to being included in any of the listed Christian groups, Muslims, Buddhists, and more. If that "other" group had a high proportion of LDS and "other Christians" that would virtually nullify this particular piece of evidence. For a religious survey, I think the BRS should be a bit more careful in how it words this question. If there are Muslims identifying with the political ideas of Christian nationalism, I would really like to know that. I'm no expert, but that is probably why I found this book challenging. It wasn't particularly written for the general layperson. I do think the authors brought up some good points and certainly encouraged me to consider my language a little more carefully when discussing these issues. However, they didn't fully convince me to adopt their point of view either.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Joan

    I listened to this book in my ongoing effort to understand the 2016 and 2020 U.S. presidential elections and the years in between. While I consider myself an evangelical Christian, I was greatly surprised at the number of evangelicals reported to have voted for Trump in 2016. In previous presidential elections, the morality of the candidates seemed to have an impact on how evangelicals voted. This did not seem to be the case in 2016. This book helped me understand the underlying ideology of Chris I listened to this book in my ongoing effort to understand the 2016 and 2020 U.S. presidential elections and the years in between. While I consider myself an evangelical Christian, I was greatly surprised at the number of evangelicals reported to have voted for Trump in 2016. In previous presidential elections, the morality of the candidates seemed to have an impact on how evangelicals voted. This did not seem to be the case in 2016. This book helped me understand the underlying ideology of Christian nationalism. I had no idea of the intensity of its existence in the political realm. The authors helped me understand what the ideology is and how Christians and others embrace or reject it. Much of the information in this book comes from questionnaires and personal interviews. Many strongly believe that the United States is a “Christian nation,” blessed by God from its founding. That blessing is in danger of being lost because of moral and cultural decline so drastic action needed to be taken. I was surprised to find that this movement is not a grass roots one but was strategically designed. While initially one might consider the actions as aimed toward cultural issues, it soon became a strong political force. The authors take a good look at the current state of Christian nationalism, at least up to mid-2019 when this book was written. They are quick to point out that not all evangelical Christians advocate Christian nationalism. There is some pressure from well known Christian leaders, however, as they claim a true Christian is one who believes the U.S. is a Christian nation, blessed by God. Like the authors, I wonder what Christians in other nations think of that kind of rhetoric. The book is not a critique of Christian nationalism but rather a statistical look at it as well as what people say who embrace or oppose it. The authors did make a prediction, suggesting the future will see a reduction in numbers but an increase in activity. Sobering words with some prophetic force. I recommend this book to those interested in understanding the movement and its current state.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jordan McPeek

    A fascinating book where two sociologists built a (American) Christian Nationalism Scale based on survey data, and proceed to point out all kinds of interesting factoids and statistical relationships. Maybe it gets a little wonky with "correlation" that and "significant" this but it's full of gems that give you pause. One of the most interesting bits is that evangelicals aren't the Trump base; it's Christian Nationalists. Yes, there's a lot of overlap between the two. But Christian Nationalists A fascinating book where two sociologists built a (American) Christian Nationalism Scale based on survey data, and proceed to point out all kinds of interesting factoids and statistical relationships. Maybe it gets a little wonky with "correlation" that and "significant" this but it's full of gems that give you pause. One of the most interesting bits is that evangelicals aren't the Trump base; it's Christian Nationalists. Yes, there's a lot of overlap between the two. But Christian Nationalists can be found in a variety of faiths, age groups, even political parties. Further, religious activity (prayer, attendance at services, reading of scriptures), isn't such a big thing with CNs. Rather, they're less likely to be religiously active. Which all goes to the conclusion that Christian Nationalism is a political rather than religious impulse. It's just nationalism dressed up in Christian language and symbolism to achieve certain political ends. What are those ends? "...to defend against shifts in the culture toward equality for groups that have historically lacked access to the levers of power—women, sexual, racial, ethnic, and religious minorities." (p. 152-3). Pretty easy to see why they'd want to dress it up. This isn't a how-to book or even really grappling with the philosophy of CN (although the authors do display a bias against it). It's more of a snapshot of how things are. And it's a CN Scale with 24 points, so it's clear that plenty of people can be found all along the scale. CN is not a simple binary, it's a continuum. That's what makes this book much more useful in considering American politics than shorthand terms like "evangelicals" or "liberals". The authors recognize in the last chapter that further studies on CN are needed, including internationally. As a Canadian, I'd be interested to see something done up here. I suspect we'd score much lower on the scale overall but it'd be interesting to see how much lower. The audiobook narrator did a fantastic job. But this is one book I wish I had the ebook or hard copy version so I could see the charts and graphs, of which there must be a lot.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mitch Aldridge

    I highly recommend this one, if only for the reason that Whitehead and Perry give a distinct definition of what Christian Nationalism actually is. On social media for the past 6 months many have tried to paint Christian Nationalists as synonymous with white evangelicals, which is simply not the case given the data. Christian Nationalism is instead a political and social phenomenon rather than a religious one. In fact, Whitehead and Perry’s study shows that Christians who are committed to the fai I highly recommend this one, if only for the reason that Whitehead and Perry give a distinct definition of what Christian Nationalism actually is. On social media for the past 6 months many have tried to paint Christian Nationalists as synonymous with white evangelicals, which is simply not the case given the data. Christian Nationalism is instead a political and social phenomenon rather than a religious one. In fact, Whitehead and Perry’s study shows that Christians who are committed to the faith are less likely to espouse ideas related to Christian Nationalism. This stuff is important because it’s political idolatry. As Christians, we’ve got to reject every aspect of it. I’ll read more on this topic this year, but this was a good start. There are times where the authors draw conclusions that I think are necessarily apparent from the data, but I found this generally helpful. Also for your consideration, this great review from Timothy Keller. Why did I even bother writing one? Mostly kidding 😉 https://quarterly.gospelinlife.com/bo...

  27. 4 out of 5

    PD

    An excellent sociological analysis for understanding Christian Nationalism. It discusses four categories: Ambassadors, Accommodators, Resisters, and Rejectors. Includes information on their methods, data sets, and bibliography. Great resource. Some highlighted conclusions: Christian Nationalism is a stronger predictor for issues across the political spectrum than religious belief and/or affiliation. However, all of the discussed issues show an inverse correlation with increased religious belief An excellent sociological analysis for understanding Christian Nationalism. It discusses four categories: Ambassadors, Accommodators, Resisters, and Rejectors. Includes information on their methods, data sets, and bibliography. Great resource. Some highlighted conclusions: Christian Nationalism is a stronger predictor for issues across the political spectrum than religious belief and/or affiliation. However, all of the discussed issues show an inverse correlation with increased religious belief (except one). White evangelicals make up a concentration of people scoring higher on their “Christian Nationalist” scale, but “Christian Nationalism” cannot be conflated, reduced, or equivocated with “white evangelical.” Christian Nationalism is a powerful myth-shaping narrative, but it has many nuances.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Degenerate Chemist

    This book is an interesting overview of christian nationalisim in the US and how it has shaped our nations politics. It cites several studies and is beautifully researched with tons of data and interviews on the topic. This is one of those 'water is wet' studies. People know what is happening, but its important to actually compile the data so we have the information in one place. It is good reading for understanding politics in the US and how christian nationalism acts as a civic religion. The b This book is an interesting overview of christian nationalisim in the US and how it has shaped our nations politics. It cites several studies and is beautifully researched with tons of data and interviews on the topic. This is one of those 'water is wet' studies. People know what is happening, but its important to actually compile the data so we have the information in one place. It is good reading for understanding politics in the US and how christian nationalism acts as a civic religion. The book mostly addresses the dynamics at play during the 2016 election. I would not recommend this particular book because it feels like a research paper that was just extended into a nonfiction novel. It gets a little dry and hard to read at times and is not the easiest thing to digest for a newcomer to the topic. 3.5 stars for being a great source of information.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Marion Wiley

    The only bone I'd have to pick with the authors is in the way they framed their survey questions. They assumed everyone would have a political preference with no option for anyone who chooses to be a-political. Which, frankly, is what Christians SHOULD be. The book is a little "geeky", but the conclusions they come to are clear, and frankly, scary. "Fusing national identity with Christianity destroys the witness of the kingdom of God. The desperate quest for power inherent in Christian nationali The only bone I'd have to pick with the authors is in the way they framed their survey questions. They assumed everyone would have a political preference with no option for anyone who chooses to be a-political. Which, frankly, is what Christians SHOULD be. The book is a little "geeky", but the conclusions they come to are clear, and frankly, scary. "Fusing national identity with Christianity destroys the witness of the kingdom of God. The desperate quest for power inherent in Christian nationalist ideology is antithetical to Jesus' message. At its core, Christian nationalism is a hollow and deceptive philosophy that depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world, rather than on Christ." (p. 163 in the hardback.) Well said.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

    I started reading this book after finishing another highly popular book on white evangelists. I prefer this one, it provided far more evidence to support their conclusions and they also acknowledged repeatedly that commitment to Christian nationalism was not automatically commitment to religion. Not all Christian nationals are, in fact, Christians, much less white evangelists, and not all Christians are Christian nationals. There are many interesting points of information in this book, and after I started reading this book after finishing another highly popular book on white evangelists. I prefer this one, it provided far more evidence to support their conclusions and they also acknowledged repeatedly that commitment to Christian nationalism was not automatically commitment to religion. Not all Christian nationals are, in fact, Christians, much less white evangelists, and not all Christians are Christian nationals. There are many interesting points of information in this book, and after reading this book I could better understand how certain people justify supporting a president whom, in his personal and professional, acted the opposite of what his supporters claimed to believe... well, as far as one can understand I should add.

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